Education Minister Augusto Espinosa says that the government plans to reduce the number of public schools from 18,000 to 5,564 over the next 10 years. “Our educational system was designed to meet the needs of the last century,” he said. “It is time we move ahead to give our children a better education.”
Espinosa also announced plans to create a nation-wide Internet system so parents can monitor their childrens’ school progress online.
The Ecucation Ministry is in the process of identifying small schools it says should be closed and choosing other locations for new consolidated schools. It says that under the current system, government resources are spread too thin to cover the needs of the large number of small, rural schools and that students suffer as a consequence. “In many small schools, we have situations where teachers have classes of 60 students. It is difficult for students to learn under these circumstance,” Espinosa says. He added that many of the small school facilities are in poor structural condition.
The government is also consolidating school administrations, reducing the number of local jurisdictions from 140 to 117.
Teodoro Barros, former director of the private National Education Foundation, cautioned that changes should not be made without careful consideration. “I worry that we will rush to build new schools without the participation from the communities affected,” he said. “I also worry that planning for staffing may lag behind construction.”
Barros added that bussing students out of their home communities removes parents from interaction with schools.
The ministry says it plans to build about 1,000 new schools between 2014 and 2024.